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Summer Vacations

United States
United States

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Summer Vacations: Top Destinations

The best summer vacations in America's trending cities

Summer is the perfect time to explore new cities and meet other travelers from all over the globe. Eat, drink, and play your way across the United States, soaking in the sights and entertainment that have made its cities great destinations for travelers of all ages. Wherever you choose to go, you're bound to uncover unique treasures to make your vacation getaway unforgettable.

Take America by storm and visit these stunning cities for the best summer vacations

Take America by storm and visit these stunning cities for the best summer vacations

  • 1. San Francisco, California

    A food lover's paradise, filled with top-notch restaurants and bakeries. Remember to pack comfortable shoes so that you can wander up and down the city's hills, visiting Chinatown for noodles or Fillmore Street for jazz. Fisherman's Wharf will tempt you with fresh shrimp, and the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero is a top summer vacation spot for food lovers. Find specialty food shops, offering everything from mushrooms to caviar. Finally, all summer vacations to San Francisco must include a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge to enjoy breathtaking views.

  • 2. Chicago, Illinois

    Perfect summer getaway destination for music lovers – outdoor music festivals are a constant presence when the temperature rises. With Lollapalooza and the Chicago Blues Festival, there's something for everyone. The city's boat tours are one of the reasons why Chicago is one of America's top summer vacation destinations, as they offer a unique perspective on the city's history and skyline. Enrich your summer vacations with art, history, and sports in Chicago's North Side, home to baseball fields, running paths, and an outdoor theatre.

  • 3. Seattle, Washington

    One of the best summer vacation spots for artsy and adventurous travelers is Seattle, Washington. The Pratt Fine Arts Center offers a range of workshops, focusing on crafts such as woodworking, painting, and jewelry-making. MoPOP, a non-profit museum, is a great place to learn about music in popular culture. All the best summer vacations in Seattle include great coffee – make sure to visit one of its specialty roasters to fuel your day.

Return of Travel - HomeToGo
Expected U.S. 2021 summer travel behaviors and trends

Return of Travel

After a long and difficult winter, families and individuals are eager to switch off their screens, close the cookbooks, and turn their travel dreams into reality. As the vaccine rollout continues and restrictions begin to lift in the U.S., many eager travelers are planning their first escapes outside of home in over a year. 

To see how Americans are planning, dreaming, and considering travel for summer 2021, the world’s largest vacation rental search engine recently conducted a general population survey* of U.S. travelers - paired with insights from HomeToGo data – bringing you the key travel trends shaping the summer 2021 travel surge.

Trend #1: Vaccines give travel an instant boost

Americans are eager to travel again and escape the sights and sounds of their own living rooms once vaccinated, as seen in HomeToGo’s research: 

  • 54% of U.S. travelers said they plan on traveling within 1-2 months after receiving the vaccine.
  • International travel will make a comeback this summer: 92% of those surveyed intend on traveling the same or more internationally after receiving the vaccine, compared to pre-pandemic.

Trend #2: Growing desire for ‘Truecations’ but few travelers are willing to disconnect.

Telecommuting has given many the freedom to work and study from anywhere, although it has also blurred the lines for work-life balance. Many travelers are now seeking to revisit the true meaning of vacations, although it might take some time for travelers to fully disconnect from their work:

  • More than half (68%) of respondents express more desire to disconnect from work during their vacations in 2021. Millennials (72%) were the most adamant about wanting to go work-free, followed by Gen X (65%)
  • Only 30% of Americans surveyed actually plan to go work-free during their vacations this year, compared to respondents in Europe: 50% in the UK, 48% in Germany, and 43% in France
  • 92% of people surveyed agreed that travel improves their mental health

Small town getaways showing up on travelers’ radar

The most popular, destinations that are showing up on American’s vacation rental searches for summer 2021 all have one thing in common: less crowds. These low population towns show a consistent trend that travelers are still seeking to stay socially distant in their first trips this summer.

Search Trend (vs 2019)
Median Price Per Night (USD)
Eureka Springs
North Carolina
Windmill in Wimberley Texas
Wimberley, Texas

Trend #3: Couples are unlocking love after lockdown

Despite being locked in together at home for the past year, travelers surprisingly expressed that their partners would still be their go-to travel companion. 

  • 70% of respondents said their partner would be their most preferred travel companion for their next vacation. 
  • 51% have more desire to travel with their partner compared to pre-pandemic.

Couples are seeking seaside escapes for their first trips: HomeToGo is seeing an upward trend in searches for two-person stays this summer, specifically in beach destinations. With some craving trips as far away as Bora Bora, the majority are opting to stay local:

Search Trend (vs 2019)
Median Price Per Night (USD)
Bora Bora
Leeward Islands
St. Croix
U.S. Virgin Islands
North Carolina
Cape San Blas
Kiawah Island
South Carolina

*Selection based on top trending destinations on HomeToGo for two-person stays

Overwater Bungalows, Bora Bora
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Trend #4: Travelers demand cleanliness and flexibility for post-pandemic accommodation 

Beyond price, cleanliness and free cancellation are the top considerations for travelers. 55% of survey respondents ranked “Extended Clean and Disinfection” in their top two considerations when booking a rental, prioritized over other amenities such as beach access, stable internet, and a pool, hot tub, or sauna.

  • In addition to more stringent hygienic measures, travelers are also searching for more booking flexibility, with 45% of respondents ranking rentals that have “Free Cancellation” among their top two booking considerations, before price. 
  • Flexible mid-week and long weekend stays are expected to boom in popularity this summer as temperatures rise and city dwellers look for quick, last-minute escapes – HomeToGo’s Flexible Dates feature saw a 600%+ increase in use in the past year as travelers increasingly booked last-minute trips outside of typical vacation weeks.

Top Booking Considerations

Extended Clean & Disinfection

Free Cancellation

Stable Internet

Spa Amenities (pool, hot tub, sauna)

Beach Access

Trend #5: Travelers are saving up and doubling down on vacation plans

80% of respondents said they saved money by traveling less in 2020, and 55% of those who saved intend on spending it on future vacations. Survey responses also show that:

  • 42% of respondents are planning to take more overnight trips in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic.     
  • 36% said they plan to spend more money per vacation in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic.

Top 5 long-haul destinations for families

Families whose summer travel plans didn’t pan out last year may still strike vacation gold this time around. HomeToGo data reveals the top trending far-flung destinations for travelers searching for rentals with 3 or more people:

Search Trend (vs 2019)
Median Price Per Night (USD)
United States
Panama City
Saint Thomas
U.S. Virgin Islands
Puerto Rico
Tourquoise Waters, Tulum Mexico
Tulum, Mexico

For industry specific trends and tips to capitalize on the new normal of travel:

Bedroom in upstate New York loft apartment

*Survey Methodology

Research conducted by HomeToGo among a sample of 1,298 respondents across 5 markets (United States, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany) with a confidence level of 95% and a 6% estimated margin of error. To participate in this survey, respondents had to be 21 or older. The survey was taken online in April 2021.

HomeToGo Internal Data Methodology:

Length of Stay: Based on the observed length of stay for U.S. bookings on between January 1, 2021 - April 6, 2021 for stays with a check-in date between May 1, 2021 - September 1, 2021, compared to the same period in 2019.

Distance to Search: Based on internal data representing the average distance to search for U.S. domestic trips, based on user origin. Data collected April 12, 2021.

Top 5 long-haul destinations: Based on traveler searches on between January 1, 2021 - April 6, 2021 for a three-person minimum stay with a check-in date between May 1 - September 1, 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. 

Trending Small Towns: Selection is based on the top 500 most searched cities in the U.S. on with a check-in date between May 1 - September 1, 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. Data collected April 6, 2021.

Trending Beach Destinations for Couples: Based on traveler searches on between January 1, 2021 - April 6, 2021 for a two-person stay with a check-in date between May 1 - September 1, 2021, compared to the same period in 2019.

Median nightly price for a vacation rental between May 1, 2021 and September 1, 2021. Prices are in USD and were collected on April 12, 2021.


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